Israelite Cisterns at Arad Now Open! (Negev of Israel)

cistern-2-interior-2

A portion of one of two cisterns on the Citadel of Arad.  Behind the men is a small chamber off the main chamber of the cistern—see final image below to view a portion of  the main chamber of this cistern.

Ever since visiting Tel Arad in the spring of 1967 with Professor Anson Rainey both the small citadel, with its Judean Temple, and the large, lower, Early Bronze Age city (ca. 2800 B.C.) have intrigued me.

One of the mysteries was were/how did they store water in the Judean Citadel?  It was evident that there was at least a small cistern in the citadel but it had not been excavated and was still blocked with debris.

cistern-unexcavated

View looking down into the cistern, which is located just south of the Judean Temple. It was filled via a channel (below) from outside the citadel that ran under the citadel wall.

It was also known that a channel lead into the cistern, under its wall, evidently putting water into it.

water-channel

View looking east at the water channel. In the very upper part of this image the western wall of the citadel is visible. This channel ran under the citadel wall into a cistern that was located just south of the Israelite Temple.

The cistern is located just to the south of the Judean Temple (see below) but it was always blocked up—it didn’t look like much was there (see above).

However, over the past 5 plus years each time we visited Arad the cistern was obviously under excavation and it was tantalizing to wonder what was being discovered!

temple-and-cistern(2)

View looking down on the Israelite Temple, and in the lower left portion of the image—just outside the temple—a modern staircase leads down into the two cisterns that were in use in the 9th and 8th centuries B.C.

View looking down on the Judean Temple, and in the lower left portion of the image—just outside the temple—a modern staircase leads down into the two cisterns that were in use in the 9th and 8th centuries B.C.

When we visited Arad this past June (2015) the cistern excavation had been completed and a modern staircase even led down into one of the two chambers!

cistern-1-interior

View looking down into the interior of one of the two large cisterns. Note the original staircase that descends from lower right down into the cistern. Note also, significant portions of the original plaster on the walls of the cistern.  Click on this large Image to Enlarge and/or Download.

The two cisterns are approximately 32 ft. [10 m.] deep and together hold about 105,600 gal. [400 cubic meters] of water!  The chambers are coated with 6 layers of plasters.

cistern-2-interior-1

View looking at the carved out cavity of interior of one of the two large cisterns. Note also, significant portions of the original plaster on the walls of the cistern. Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download.

The cisterns were used during peacetime as well as during sieges.  They were  filled with rainwater from within the citadel via the underground channel (see above) that led from outside the citadel, under its wall, into the cistern.  Since there are no natural springs in the area, probably water was brought by pack animals, from cisterns in the vicinity—especially the one in the lower Canaanite City, and then poured into the water channel and from there into the cisterns.

For free High Resolution images of the above images Click Here.

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One response to “Israelite Cisterns at Arad Now Open! (Negev of Israel)

  1. Thanks for keeping us updated on some of the new things you saw during your travels this year. Much appreciated.

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